Argyle Public Relationships

Catching Election Fever – Playing the Long Game

By David Gourlay

/ Posted in Government Relations

Hand of business man placing a vote ballot into a box

A campaign update from Argyle’s Ottawa office

Here at Argyle Public Relationships, we have election fever! With Canadians going to the polls in 5 weeks on October 19th, we have caught the bug and we are watching the developments, events and drama that will occur in Canada’s 42nd federal election. Argyle’s government relations team in Ottawa has been tracking the writ period since it was called by the Prime Minister in early August for Canadians to head to the polls on October 19th. While this is certainly a lengthy electoral process, it does not make it less important for the issues facing the electorate and understanding the impacts the results will have on us in business and other sectors of Canadian society.

The key issues & contrasts of an engaged voter
As we get ready for Fall and cheer on the Toronto Blue Jays, who are aiming for their first post-season in 22 years, Party leaders are talking to Canadians about issues such as the economy, First Nations, child care, security and US – Canada relations to just name a select few.

Long campaign: Increased voter interest?
Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer recently speculated that there is hope for an increased interest among Canadians in this election if the numbers that his office has seen so far are a reflection of the long game of a 75-day writ. Elections Canada is already receiving over 15,000 calls a day from Canadians and this is encouraging news for our electoral process at the national level at a time in our political discourse when the old wisdom by Tip O’Neill that “all politics is local” has never been more true. With our electoral map growing by 30 new seats in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec making 338 in total, Elections Canada must now manage the complex dynamics of preparing 68,000 polling stations across 18,000 locations in Canada.

The role of Elections Canada is complementary to us all as voters as an engaged citizenry in the digital age should increase the average voter turnout. As pundits, national media outlets, pollsters and the public all focus on the upcoming televised leaders’ debates, the external forces potentially impacting results and more, there is optimism that the 61% average voter turnout from 2011 (14+ million Canadians) will escalate. With the acceptance of social media tools and digital communication, is it not time for a more savvy youth cohort to embolden itself with the voting instrument to make a statement for issues such as the economy, health-care and foreign affairs ? A healthy democracy certainly relies on these trends to materialize and this writ offers that hope.

The issues matter !
Another key motivator for an engaged voter is the number of issues that the parties and candidates make prolific during this long writ. So far, after 5 weeks of campaigning, we have seen platforms focus on the economy, migrant crisis, energy and the environment, the state of our democracy, foreign policy and security. These were certainly the focal points for the nationally televised leaders’ debate on August 6th.

While we see issues discussed at a high level during leaders’ debates to encapsulate a national perspective, it is their individual appearances in a designated riding where the Party is focused on voter support or building support that more detailed announcements are made. For example, recently, in the riding of Spadina – Fort York in Ontario, the Liberals announced a platform on new affordable housing.

Finally, as the national campaign progresses, Party platforms will become more focused and specialized when public reaction is better understood through media coverage, specified polling and social media responses.

Canada’s first genuine three-way horserace for 24 Sussex
If there is an emerging trend that we will have a higher voter turnout, it is the close national polling numbers placing the odds of a minority Parliament quite high based on the exciting contest over the next 40 days ! We are now seeing a gradually decreasing undecided vote in polling numbers meaning Canadians are engaged on the campaign and making decisions. For business, this means watching the developments carefully, monitoring the statements made by Leaders and understanding the analysis by the pundits on the implications of the next Parliament on our economy, labour market, Canadian dollar and trade policy. The diversity of the Party statements and platforms and their positions on coalitions and partnerships make for interesting politics.

Argyle is watching these developments and understands what it means. Our dedicated Government Relations team has the knowledge and expertise to provide insights and strategies on relationship development to achieve long-term goals.

We are available to discuss our insights. Please feel free to contact us at 613 416 0010 x 259 !

Happy Election Watching !

About the Author: 
David Gourlay is the Vice President of Public Affairs for Argyle Public Relationships. He is a proven trusted advisor with a reputation as a relationship builder, leading all government relations and public affairs communications out of our Ottawa office.

Want to ignite a discussion or contribute to the discourse?
Join the conversation